A dangerous fallacy has been encouraged by recent discussion of an Opposition discussion paper on revitalising the north of Australia. The fallacy is that for northern prosperity, just add water.

Frank had his 2 and 5, he didn't care what was in them

It is based on a romantic and attractive notion that by reversing a few rivers and building a few dams the factors prohibiting northern development will be washed away.

But that won’t happen unless the crops are suitable for the conditions, and that would involve agricultural bio-technology.

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  • GT Glen says:

    06:52pm | 25/02/13

    AMY797E alpha-amylase protein and the pmi (manA) gene from E. coli, which encodes the enzyme phosphomannose isomerase (a plant selectable marker). The AMY797E alpha-amylase enzyme is a chimeric enzyme derived from three wild-type alpha-amylases from the archael order Thermococcales..There is no need for genetic tampering. E.Coli and other listed pathogenic… Read more »

  • Bazza the Oracle says:

    06:43pm | 25/02/13

    Actually Acotrel I’ve got cleverer things growing in my garden than you. Read more »


The Coalition’s pledge to shrink the size of government and the reach of government regulation has hit a furrow in the wheat fields of Australia where deregulation is sometimes seen as a fad.

Do you like regulated or deregulated Weet Bix?

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott this week is determined to steer his troops away from accepting the full deregulation of the wheat market and probably will succeed with most of them.

In fact, it might not hurt Mr Abbott were a couple of his MPs to abstain or otherwise protest against the legislation. It would reinforce the “we’re not Stalanists” line he has been using on the freedom of Coalition backbenchers.

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  • Tim says:

    06:57pm | 09/10/12

    Glennm, So you’re not a fan of the free market and prefer business subsidies? Not really a traditional Liberal position. Read more »

  • Tom says:

    06:15pm | 09/10/12

    “Lets sell 10 percent of our valuable farmland to other countries” typical conservative thing to do. “Big profits n pickins for all!” excellent demonstration of the conservatives in action. Feeding at the trough and damn everyone else. Read more »


In a week where the core national issues have had a decidedly seedy tone, let’s usher in the weekend by talking about something sweet. Apples.

The real apple. All others are impostors. Pic: Jeff Darmanin

Apples are a much under-rated fruit. But one type of apple is in real trouble. It’s the humble red delicious, which used to be known quite simply as “red apples” when I was a kid.

Growers like Iola Robson, who has been in the apple game for 43 years in Batlow, NSW, says her farm used to be about 80 per cent red delicious, 20 per cent other varieties. That ratio is now completely reversed. Another grower we spoke to said red delicious apples could soon be phased out entirely! How do you like them apples?

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  • Linda says:

    07:35pm | 05/10/12

    Red delicious used to be my favourite fruit but over the years the flavour changed as they have cross pollinated them to improve the fruit so they say. Since I found the taste of them differed over the years I no longer bother with them & only buy the gala… Read more »

  • ianc says:

    06:59pm | 05/10/12

    Yep the Ladies are my favourite but i miss the Jonathans. Read more »


Is foreign investment bad? No doubt your view will depend on whether you believe countries have a sovereign right to promote their national interest or whether you are a free market fundamentalist.

Like this one: Cubbie Station

As always, the free market fundamentalists get overly excited and try to stifle debate on the issue. The problem with free market fundamentalists is that they are intolerant of other people’s views and think they have a divine right to tell political parties and the rest of us what to do.

Even within the two major political parties you have a division between the free market fundamentalists and those with the common sense to see the broader picture. There’s nothing wrong with differences of opinion even within the same political party.

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  • Quality not Quantity says:

    06:08pm | 12/09/12

    @ Chopper knows nothing. If you went to school in Australia you would have learn’t what an arid continent this country is. Keep to the topic, and use spellcheck while your at it. Your spelling is laughable. Did you learn that at “property school”. Australia achieved independent sovereign nationhood status… Read more »

  • Kika says:

    04:51pm | 12/09/12

    I’m not a big fan of foreign investment in our farming lands. However, if they must, then they all should be subject to the same laws we are. We don’t want our rivers running red due to lax environmental practices, or animals suffering unnecessarily. Read more »


I was so happy to read that The Punch’s David Penberthy had decided to try to make a 100 per cent Australian-grown bolognese sauce. So sorry to hear that it wasn’t possible.

Photo: What price keeping these tractors on the move?

Distraught to read that he couldn’t understand all the fuss about foreign imported foods.

Writing as a vegetable farmer’s wife, let me tell you what the fuss is. Every day people like my husband wake up and go to work on the farm. Farm life is a life like no other. There’s no 9 to 5 on the farm.

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  • LC says:

    02:19pm | 31/07/12

    Gimmie a second folks, I’m just enjoying the mental image of what Nathan will say/do/look like when it’s his job at risk of going to China/India. Will he be so quick to make flippant remarks like “If you can’t compete then get out of the game” when it’s his job… Read more »

  • Matilda says:

    07:30am | 30/07/12

    In my case as a dairy farmer, there are six-figure set up costs and earning of $50K per year, that’s just a pipe-dream. There’s also the prospect of working 24/10 rather than 24/7 Read more »


History is littered with good intentions gone bad and concerns are growing the Government’s recently released draft Murray Darling Basin Plan is a prime example.

Too much of a good thing.

Frontline environmentalists, who live and work with the vagaries of the rivers, are warning that the Government is heading down the wrong track and could be responsible for allowing wetlands, which not even the worst drought in living memory could kill, to be severely damaged as a result of over-watering.

If we have above average rainfall over the next 12 months the world’s largest river red gum forest is facing the very real prospect of being degraded within three years of it being declared a national park, and two years before the Federal Government has signed off on an environmental watering plan.

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  • Ian Robinson says:

    03:10pm | 16/12/11

    Hi Tom - Good to talk with you in Deniliquin today.  There is a lot of local involvement in environmental water management at present as we have a network of partners including local environmental water advisory committees and catchment management authorities (CMAs). For example the Deniliquin based Murray CMA is… Read more »

  • Eastern State Mentality Person says:

    07:54pm | 15/12/11

    South who? Oh you guys down there at the bottom end of the system…oh yeah..forgot about youse. We’ll send you a few megalitres if we have any left…ok? Fair enough? Read more »


Bob Katter gave a press conference today, to announce that he may or may not form a new party. In the end, that was hardly the point.

Bob Katter's scary vision of the Australian workforce of the future
If the independent member for Kennedy was sketchy on the details of his immediate political future, he was as forthright as a charging bull on his concern for the future of the Australian economy, a concern the nation’s leaders appear to have forgotten.

As usual this week, our leaders are banging on about big picture crap. Gillard is flogging her dead horse of a carbon tax, Abbott’s busy telling us the sky is falling under the weight of asylum seekers, while Bob Brown continues to rail against everything except the destruction of the trees he was originally elected to protect.

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  • jen says:

    04:24pm | 05/06/11

    2 true d..we have sold out so much of this country..our farmers are dissapearing..we are over least bob seems 2 want 2 keep australia and australians as we have always been, instead of cheap imports and this nonsense carbon tax crap Read more »

  • Damocles says:

    12:01pm | 29/05/11

    Hey Rick, just a quick correction, it’s NOT “all be it”, it’s “albeit” and for all the others who get it wrong, it’s not “I COULD care less”, it’s “I COULDN’T care less” and while I’m at it, it’s NOT “eccetera”, it’s “etcetera”. Oh, and to all you who are… Read more »


Are we a nation of Akubra-wearing graziers? Of rough and ready carnival operators? Sponge cake bakers called Joan? Or a collection of young mothers pushing strollers festooned with Show bags ?

Farmer Joe, hard at work. Photo: Nathan Edwards.

The truth is we are all these people and more. For the tens of thousands of people who arrive into Australia and settle in Sydney each year, the Sydney Royal Easter Show may be their first experience of the real Australia.

The Show is so big and diverse it is almost impossible to describe. But once you have experienced the Show, you know what it means - it gets under your skin.

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  • Robert Smissen, rural SA, God's own country says:

    12:35am | 25/04/11

    Closer to 85% live on the coastal fringe in huge bloated pointless cities, Austalia is the most urbanized country in the world. Strange that 40% of Australia’s production comes from the rural areas. The myth of tall bronzed Australians is a blatant lie Read more »

  • Robert Smissen, rural SA, God's own country says:

    12:29am | 25/04/11

    What the hell is a pound? ? Read more »


The release of the Murray-Darling Basin Authority’s guide to the Basin Plan has ignited discussion about how we manage this critical system for the long term. It has been disappointing to see over recent weeks the Coalition now walking away from reform in the basin, reform that even the previous Howard Government saw as necessary.

Cartoon by The Australian's Jon Kudelka.

Coalition members are now arguing that taking action in the basin will be tantamount to choosing the environment over rural communities. This argument is based on a false dichotomy. Reforming the Murray Darling system is not a choice between the interests of producers and the environment- reform is in the interest of all those who rely on this vital river system, to secure its long-term health and viability. Indeed the aim of the Water Act is to manage our water resources in such a way as to optimise environmental, economic and social outcomes.

The worst thing that could happen for everyone in the Basin, whether it’s someone who cares about the environmental assets of the river system or a farmer wanting to continue to make a sustainable living, is for the Government to do nothing. An unmanaged and unhealthy water supply is no use to anyone.

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  • north face outlet says:

    10:41am | 16/11/12

    Great blog you have here but I was wondering if you knew of any discussion boards that cover the same topics talked about here? I’d really like to be a part of group where I can get advice from other knowledgeable people that share the same interest. If you have… Read more »

  • Martin says:

    10:42pm | 03/11/10

    amanda your piece was well written and contrary to what people here have said she is actually one of the smarter members of the parliament who does a lot of hard work so just because she’s a psychologist doesn’t mean she knows nothing about the problems in fact she knows… Read more »


Lost in the aftershocks of the home insulation scandal is a story with deadly implications for beef farming in Australia.

We're at risk of being swamped by mad cows - Moo.

A Senate inquiry is underway into a decision to lift the ban on importing beef from countries tainted by mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy.

From next Monday, beef from countries like the US, Canada, Britain and other European nations will enter Australia, without being subject to the usual import risk assessments.

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  • ohksquobg says:

    08:59pm | 29/09/11

    qz6Wxg ddqzuzbftmil, tgstgnncpwwi, [link=]yayybgrzuxwm[/link], Read more »

  • acker says:

    06:56am | 25/02/10

    @Cynic… I would suggest that some Queensland regional MP’s get ready for a stormy ride during pre-selections. There are a fair few rank and file Labor members who own cattle. I think someone in Labor HQ needs to quickly get a reality check, when I worked in Central Queensland a… Read more »


As a farmer it is my duty to let backyard chook fanciers in on a secret. No chook ever died in credit. That’s why the only chooks that have ever been on our farm have been dead, plucked and ready to cook.

Free-range chooks would be less popular with groups like PETA if they knew what pampered malingerers they really are.

Chooks as pets are the flavour of the month. They are small, they eat leftovers and the eggs they lay are delicious, making them ideal pets for inner-city backyards.

But if you look at the economics, each egg will cost many times more than the amount you pay for a barn-laid dozen and food producers don’t provide homes for poultry or livestock that doesn’t earn its keep.

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  • Deb G says:

    08:13pm | 28/07/09

    I wish I could buy some of your eggs G. I refuse to buy any sort of cage eggs !  the higher price I pay Is well worth it . Read more »

  • G says:

    01:23pm | 27/07/09

    Farming is a business, and just like any other, big business will get fatter and small business will struggle to be more creative in practice and marketing. The supermarket duopoly essentially rapes small business leaving them with the choice of losing their margin or providing a lesser product (whether that… Read more »


Every family needs a farmer

Agriculture Minister Tony Burke claimed as an observer to the G8 Agriculture Minister’s meeting in Europe that “Australia has a major role to play in meeting the global food shortage and boosting global food security … we believe investment in agricultural research will be essential”.

Fast forward to the Budget and we find that the Rudd Government cut the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry budget by $908 million or 32 percent. Included in the cuts was the axing of the research body Land and Water Australia, 312 jobs cut and a $35.877 million cut to the Quarantine and Bio-security program.

Cutting the agriculture research budget is unforgivable – but cutting the quarantine budget is criminal. The Rudd Government’s legacy will include disease, deficits and debt.

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